Monday, February 15, 2021

For a short time, I wrote insurance plan documents. God bless the people who do it.

Whenever you sign up for health coverage through your employer or purchase new life insurance, you receive a thick booklet in the mail called the plan description.

Under almost no circumstances will you or anyone you know ever read one of these documents.

I have never met a non-attorney or someone outside of the insurance industry who has read even two pages of one of these things.

I, however, have read them. Several of them.

This is because, for a seven-month period spanning late 1996 into 1997, I wrote health insurance plan documents for a living.

It was an excruciatingly dull job for me, largely because I had previously been a newspaper sports journalist.

On no one's scale of excitement does "insurance plan document specialist" outpace "sports writer."

In retrospect, though, it was an absolutely vital step in my career path. Terry and I were starting to have kids, and our goal was for her to be able to stay home full time to take care of them.

The only way this was going to happen was for me to switch professions and work my way toward a job that (a) paid more, and (b) had regular 9-to-5 hours instead of the strange night-owl schedule of the sports writer.

So I answered an ad in the paper (this is how we used to get jobs, kids) and went to work for a third-party insurance plan administrator writing these documents. I didn't especially enjoy the job, but I learned a lot.

It also gave me enough exposure to health care that I was able to get my next job, which was serving as managing editor of Urology Times magazine. While obviously not sports, it was a position in which I could again put my journalism training to some use.

From UT I moved on to the Cleveland Clinic, my first job as a public relations professional. From there, I went in succession to a PR agency, a community foundation, a large nonprofit, and now Vitamix.

There's probably no way that particular chain of events comes to pass without my time writing those endless insurance documents. People who make a living writing them have my undying admiration.

If there's a moral to this story for those just starting in their careers, it is probably this: Every job is likely to benefit you in some way. Stick it out for at least a little while and use it as a springboard toward your ultimate goal.

Even if that goal is writing thick legal documents that no one is ever likely to read.

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